Last Updated Jul 6, 2010 6:18 PM EDT
There are two surprising things here: First, corporate America's commercials have not slowly trickled back to Beck's show now that the fuss has died down (the scandal broke nearly a year ago). And second, it's also a testament to how stubborn the News Corp. management culture is: They just don't give in, even though at this point standing by Beck must have cost them millions of dollars. Clearly, this is important to them.
On MediaMatters' current ad roster for Beck:
- Beck's show had 27 ad slots in total.
- Nine were "house" ads for other News properties, and thus did not generate revenue for News.
- Six were ads for non-profit organizations, and were unlikely to have been sold at full price.
Such appearances are crucial. For some brands, the "environment" is as important as the gross ratings points. And the current ad environment on Beck is populated by C-list brands such as Zoosk.com, Hydroxatone, and Tax Masters.
At one time, the boycott seemed irrelevant because Beck had such a massive audience for his daytime show, 3 million people. Now he has only about 1.4 million, according to Nielsen. (Most recent numbers: 1.5 million.) So the show's financial troubles are compounded: In addition to not selling enough full-price inventory to fill out the show, each individual slot is worth less because it delivers fewer ratings points.
Why does News persist? Although Beck still gets nearly triple the viewers of his competitors, it is not likely that Fox is standing behind him for business reasons. It would be much more lucrative for CEO Rupert Murdoch to demand that Beck apologize and move on. Then Nestle et al. could come back and everything would return to normal. Rather, this is as another case in which News is cutting off its nose to spite its face. Murdoch believes Beck is "right," and he seems to be insisting that he's not going to let liberal boycotts or his sympathetic clients push him around.
News has a history of this: It engaged in a suicidal civil war over supermarket advertising that cost the company $500 million, and it still hasn't settled the last of that litigation. The manager responsible for those losses -- News America Marketing CEO and New York Post publisher Paul Carlucci -- remains in his position as if he'd done nothing wrong.